A1 Journal article (refereed)
‘Can I tell?’ : Children’s participation and positioning in a secretive atmosphere in family therapy (2021)

Helimäki, M., Laitila, A., & Kumpulainen, K. (2021). ‘Can I tell?’ : Children’s participation and positioning in a secretive atmosphere in family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 43(1), 96-123. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12296

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Helimäki, Mira; Laitila, Aarno; Kumpulainen, Kirsti

Journal or series: Journal of Family Therapy

ISSN: 0163-4445

eISSN: 1467-6427

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 43

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 96-123

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12296

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/69004


As a multifaceted phenomenon, family secrets affect interaction in the therapeutic system. This qualitative study, applying the multi‐actor Dialogical Methods for Investigations of Happening of Change, explored how children participated and positioned themselves in family therapy in a climate of family secrets. The results showed that the children were active co‐participants in the complex dynamics of a secretive atmosphere, involving themselves in the paradoxical processes of reconstructing and deconstructing the secretive and unsafe climate. In family therapy, a child’s symptomatic behaviour can function as a visible ‘cover story’ for invisible constructions of secrets, preventing sensitive topics from becoming the focus of therapy. Family secrets therefore continue to present a challenge in family therapy practice and research.

Keywords: family therapy; children (family members); family relations; secrets; interaction

Free keywords: children’s positioning; family secret; family therapy; systemic interaction

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-07-07 at 17:53